• United States

Inter-Tel adds intelligence to its VoIP phones

Feb 09, 20043 mins

Inter-Tel this week is scheduled to unveil new IP telephony phones and software aimed at helping users bridge the legacy telephony/VoIP gap while deploying advanced applications to desktops.

The Inter-Tel 8690 is a Windows CE-based IP phone that could help corporations deploy IP telephony applications such as presence management and integrated voice/chat applications at end-user desktops via an IP handset.

The new device can interoperate with legacy Inter-Tel PBX hardware and new Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based IP PBX platforms from the vendor or other makers. The company also is releasing a new version of its communication and presence management client software for the phone, which could help end users better control how they are contacted via phone, e-mail and instant messaging.

The 8690 IP phone most noticeably differs from past Inter-Tel handsets in that it has no buttons on the handset. All interfacing is done via a 6.4-inch LCD touch screen on the device, which can display a number pad, and other touch-screen menus and “soft buttons” that can be controlled with the touch screen. The phone can run in a proprietary protocol mode, for interacting with Inter-Tel’s Axxess and InterPrise IP PBX platforms. It also can be configured with a standards-based SIP implementation, letting it act as a SIP agent attached to SIP-based gateways and call servers.

The 8690 includes a three-port Ethernet switch, for connecting PCs to a LAN through the phone. The phone also can be powered via 802.3af power over Ethernet, or Cisco’s proprietary PoE technology. (Cisco also offers 802.3af Power-over- Ethernet gear.) Its device also has a full-duplex speaker phone and USB headset connection port.

The phone runs on the Win CE operating system, which is used for PDAs, handhelds and other small devices. The phone run Win CE applications, along with an embedded version of Inter-Tel Unified Communicator presence management client.

The Unified Communicator is client software that can interact with any Inter-Tel IP PBX or PBX (via a digital/IP gateway). The software tracts the availability of co-workers online and displays a list of who is available by what means. The client can tell if end users are available by phone, e-mail or IM software. The software also can be used to initiate a call, e-mail or chat session. Previously, Unified Communicator software was available for PCs and PDAs with wireless and softphone technology.

The Inter-Tel 8690 competes with high-end LCD/touch screen IP phones from Avaya, Cisco, NEC and Nortel. The phone is scheduled to be available this quarter for $2,500.